In honor of its latest flight transporting the Orion capsule to the Kennedy Space Center, let's consider the world's most bulbous plane, NASA's Super Guppy.
The Super Guppy has a cargo area that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long. The jumbo plane can carry over 26 tons worth of cargo and is often used by NASA to ferry large components around the country that would take too long (or be impossible) to ship by land or by sea.[more inside]
In a daring attempt to ease cold war tensions, the 19-year-old amateur pilot had flown a single-engine Cessna nearly 550 miles from Helsinki to the center of Moscow—probably the most heavily defended city on the planet—and parked it at the base of St. Basil’s Cathedral, within spitting distance of Lenin’s tomb. Newspapers dubbed the pilot “the new Red Baron” and the “Don Quixote of the skies.” The stunt became one of the most talked-about aviation feats in history. But it was politics, not fame, that motivated Rust.
FAA (pdf link): A Boeing Model 787 airplane that has been powered continuously for 248 days can lose all AC electrical power due to the generator control units (GCUs) simultaneously going into failsafe mode. This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this airworthiness directive to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane. Guardian article: "In the latest of a long line of problems plaguing Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which saw the company’s fleet grounded over battery issues and concerns raised over possible hacking vulnerabilities, the new software bug was found in plane’s generator-control units." [more inside]
A grim and forbidding land, devoid of human habitation, intolerant of the inexperienced, and merciless when it judges the foolhardy. On May 4, 1942, twelve men of the South African Air Force boarded three Bristol Blenheim Mark IVs and took off from the oasis of Kufra in the Libyan Desert. Only one made it back alive. [more inside]
Audio recordings show that airspace restrictions over Ferguson following the killing of Mike Brown, supposedly due to shots fired at helicopters, were actually to keep the media out. Meanwhile federal charges against Darren Wilson are looking increasingly unlikely.
“When we yelled ‘Brace!’ ” Brown said later, “I always described it as if you watched a wind come across a field of wheat and everything bends. That’s how it was. Everybody went down. It was like a field of wheat being blown over.” What a plane crash feels like: The inside story of an American aviation disaster — and miracle [more inside]
Flying RC Aircraft Carrier, Last year we saw the first launch of an RC Aircraft from an RC Carrier. Now we have the first launch AND landing of an RC Aircraft on a Flying RC Carrier.
Previously on the blue. Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. "Trappy" was the first person ever to to fined by the FAA for the commercial operation of a drone. However, instead of paying up, Pirker decided to contest the ruling with a little pro bono legal help. Last Thursday evening, the judge issued his ruling. The judge dismissed the FAA's case, agreeing with the defense that since the FAA never created any legally binding rules for small drones to begin with, they cannot now apply rules that would be used for a pilot flying a full size manned aircraft to drone operators. For now, the ruling means that commercial operation of SUAS in the United States is, basically, legal. Within 24 hours of the ruling, the FAA appealed the case to entire board of the NTSB. SUAS experimenters who have been waiting in the wings are pleased with the ruling.
On September 20, 1956, just before the bars closed at 3 a.m., a single-engine plane landed on St. Nicholas Avenue near 191st Street in northern Manhattan. Behind the stick was 26-year-old Tommy Fiztpatrick, who pulled off the no-lights, no-radio "feat of aeronautics" while (allegedly) drunk to (allegedly) win a bar bet. Two years later, when a fellow patron called his story into question, Fitzpatrick did it again.
Luigi Prina: The Ships That Sail Through The Clouds — Italian architect creates beautiful flying air ships.
Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. Trappy, is a FPV pilot who came to be well known after the video from his New York flight went viral. While most of the media coverage of Trappy's NYC exploits was positive, the incident prompted a heated debate in the hobbyist community, and the authorities took a dim view of it. Shortly afterwards, Trappy was hired by a PR firm to do an aerial video shoot over the University of Virginia. The FAA, having banned commercial use of UAVs in 2007, took the unusual step of issuing a $10,000 fine for the unauthorized flight. Earlier this month Trappy's attorneys filed a response(pdf) to the FAA's action which questions whether the FAA holds jurisdiction over "model aircraft" in the first place. According to Wired Magazine, he court's decision could determine the future of model aviation and miniature UAVs in the US. Once again, the response from the hobbyist/entrepreneur community has been spirited. [more inside]
Scientists first discovered invisible gamma-ray flashes in Earth's atmosphere in 1991. This year, the radiation burst, known as dark lightning, was discovered to be linked to regular lightning flashes. Will you get zapped by dark lightning when flying through a thunder cloud? A single burst can give an airline passenger a lifetime's safe dose of ionizing radiation. But it is rare enough that, for now, the risk is thought to be minimal. The US Naval Research Laboratory is rigging balloons and aircraft to further study the radiation burst threat.
The Epidemiology of In-Flight Medical Emergencies Friday SLYT- No time to read the NEMJ paper? (Previous Blue Medical emergency goodness). Doctors of Metafilter, what are you're favourite stories?
How did Lockheed move the A-12 from the Skunk Works to Area 51 for flight testing without the vehicle being seen? Here's how.
No other hangar in the world is commodious enough to accomodate the giant. With longer wings than a Boeing 747 (70m) and ¾ of the length of an Airbus A380, but with a maximum take-off weight of only 130 tons (less than a Boeing 767), the Bristol Brabazon was only built to hold 100 passengers. The hangar that was made for it is under threat of being demolished and replaced with housing after the closure of Filton Airport, Bristol. Luckily, the red-trousered Mayor of Bristol has promised to intervene. [more inside]
109 years ago today, on December 17th 1903, Orville Wright lay down and flew 120 feet at 10 feet per second on the Wright Flyer. [more inside]
Rescue of a model airplane using a helicopter (five minute YouTube video)
See all the aircraft* currently in flight around the world. Also: Google Flights, to help book your own trip. [more inside]
B-25 "...Mitchells do fly I.M.C." a Channel 4 UK documentary by Anthony Howarth and Carolyn Hicks detailing the effort of John “Jeff” Hawke to transport five WW II North American B-25 Mitchell bombers from the United States to England for use in the filming of “Hanover Street” in 1978. [more inside]
The first human-powered aircraft to achieve sustained and controlled flight, the Gossamer Condor (6.3 MB PDF), now belongs to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2.2 MB JPG). So you'll need to build your own. (previously)
In 2006, the United States Air Force declassified part of one of its secret programs: Constant Peg, the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, which flew MiGs. [more inside]
"This is unprecedented footage of a small airplane crash from inside the cockpit from two different views. Miraculously, everyone survived. The pilot will make a full recovery and the rest of us escaped with superficial injuries and feel very lucky to be alive." (Graphic accident footage, injuries are shown) [more inside]
Once more into the breach! Shades of Neal Stephenson: a squadron of RAF Spifires has been unearthed in Burma and is on its way back to Old Blighty. One hopes they can be properly restored so the populace can witness the aircraft that saved England's bacon. At the very least, perhaps they'll appear in a Dr Who episode.
Mowing the lawn. A collection of aircraft taxiing with the wheels up...
The Cold War resulted in a rather large number of interesting military research programs. One of these with which I'm familiar is the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which ran from 1946 to 1961. The basic idea? Modify a bomber (such as a B-36 bomber), creating an aircraft that could theoretically remain aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, much like ballistic submarines? The challenge? Shielding. Shielding the reactor alone would make the aircraft prohibitively heavy, so the idea was to primarily shield the crew compartment instead of the reactor. However, to study the concept, and evaluate various lightweight shielding concepts, two very novel and unique nuclear reactors were built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, a novel "swimming pool reactor", and the Tower Shielding Reactor, an unshielded reactor that was hung 200' in the air dangling between 310' steel towers. While the program successfully demonstrated several of the concepts (including a nuclear-powered gas turbine engine running in Idaho, and a modified B-36 that carried a nuclear reactor but wasn't propelled by it (mentioned above), the program was canceled in 1961 due to feasibility and budget concerns.
Fancy a jaunt in a dirigible, do you? Read along with Popular Mechanics and get a feel for it, go along for a 30 minute ride (YT in 4 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, playlist with all 4), or try a flight sim or two.
Austrian research company IAT21 has presented a new type of aircraft at the Paris Air Show which has the potential to become aviation's first disruptive technology since the jet engine. ... The key to the D-Dalus' extreme maneuverability is the facility to alter the angle of the blades (using servos) to vector the forces, meaning that the thrust can be delivered in your choice of 360 degrees around any of the three axes. Hence D-Dalus can launch vertically, hover perfectly still and move in any direction, and that's just the start of the story.
War is Boring's Steve Weintz has a two-part article up on mobile nuclear reactors, called Atoms In Motion: Portable Reactors (part two here). The links referenced cover planes, trains, and automobiles (though calling the last one an "automobile" might be stretching the definition a little.)
Putting aircraft back into service after storage is sometimes hazardous. Witness this TU-154, where control problems occurred approximately 30 seconds after takeoff. [more inside]
The largest model railway layout in the world, Hamburg's Miniatur Wunderland has been featured here before. Featuring areas modelled on real life attractions, it also is home to the fictional town of Knuffingen where the 200,000 mini-inhabitants are very much looking forward to the opening of their new airport. [more inside]
A 24 hour observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to just over a minute. Similar videos are created by NASA's Future ATM Concepts Evaluation Tool (or FACET), like this one of a day in the life of air traffic over the United States.
The first pictures of China's "5th generation" fighter prototype were leaked this week. The aircraft, believed to be the J-20, is expected to have its first flight in early 2011. [more inside]
The Harrier Jump Jet makes its final flight over England. The venerable Jump Jet, famous for its hovering capability, is to be decommissioned - along with the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal - as part of Britain's cost-cutting measures. It will be replaced by the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Another story w/video. Is this "the beginning of the end of plane-making in Britain"? [more inside]
"Aircraft is flying safely and we'll get back to you very shortly with further information. Thank you for your patience."
On Friday, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released their preliminary report regarding the Qantas Flight 32 in-flight engine failure. [more inside]
Evolution of the Swissair logo and Swissair posters. Many more logos and posters at the Swissair fan site. (logos/posters are direct links to frames at the fan site)
Francie Rehwald said she wanted a curved, feminine-shaped house for her Malibu lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so architect David Hertz designed her a home built from a scrapped 747.
The Cosmic Muffin is a boat that was once a 1939 Boeing 307 Stratoliner airplane that belonged to Howard Hughes. [more inside]
Yarchive is one man's collection of UseNET posts on the topics of Air Conditioning; Aircraft; Bicycles; Cars; Chemistry; Computers; Electrical, Electronic; Environment; Explosives, Pyrotechnics; Food; Houses; Guns; Jokes; Medicine; Metalworking; Military; Nuclear; Telephones; Physics; Risks; Security; Space mostly from a select group of authors. It has been updated several times since it first appeared here in 2001 and it never fails to sucker me in for hours every time I stumble upon it from a Google Search. [more inside]
Online SR-71A Flight Manual. Included in sr-71.org's excellent Blackbird Archive is a scanned copy of the actual "Dash-1" flight manual for the famous SR-71A reconnaissance plane. [more inside]
21st Century Jet: The Building of the 777 (part 1 of 5) In the early 90's, Boeing decided to build a new airplane, the 777. They also decided to allow KCTS Television and Channel Four London to film the design, construction, and testing of the new airliner. This 5-hour documentary, first aired in 1996, is no longer shown on TV, and out of print on VHS, but you can now watch it on Google Videos. [more inside]
A Zimbabwean cargo aircraft crashed earlier today at Shanghai-Pudong airport, killing three and seriously injuring four. It is not yet known why the aircraft, an ex Varig MD-11F (pic) operated by an airline called Avient, failed to become airborne, but the airline itself has received quite some attention recently. Headquartered in Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, they almost went bankrupt, leaving behind massive debts in France, only to almost out of nowhere get this MD-11F, which crashed within a week of being acquired. (pprune, reg req) But that's not the only shady thing about this airline... [more inside]
What does an aircraft company do when military contracts dry up? Fairey’s answer was to reinvent the helicopter and revolutionize the short-haul airline industry. After 15 years of effort, its unique project, the Rotodyne, came within an inch of achieving that goal. The Fairey Rotodyne, which first took to the air more than 50 years ago, was billed as the world's first vertical take-off commercial passenger aircraft. Fairey talked up expressions of interest from BEA in the UK, New York Airways and the US Army, but the crucial launch order never came. British government policy to rationalize the industry saw the end of the Rotodyne and Fairey as an airframe maker in 1962.
January: Newly sworn-in President Obama says, "We need greater investment in... essential systems like the C-17 cargo... aircraft, which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power." April: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, "Our analysis concludes that we have enough C-17s, with the 205 already in the force and currently in production." May: The Office of Management and Budget proposes the termination of the C-17 program with a savings of $17 billion. July: The 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill includes funding for the program. September 29: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposes an amendment to strip that funding - "You can't walk through these hallways without bumping into a lobbyist from Boeing." September 30: By a vote of 64 to 34, the Senate defeats the amendment.
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